Making sense of today's chaos

Wherever I go I hear the same lament: "These times are crazy. What's going on?" We all want to know where we are headed and whether that path offers any sense of possibility and hope.

The recent debate over gun legislation is exhibit A. Public opinion surveys showed widespread support for action, and yet none occurred, despite courageous efforts by Senators Joe Machin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to bridge the divide. Now, the question is, will the immigration debate go the same way? Spearheading the movement, a "gang of eight" senators have found common ground to show a way forward.

Even more troubling there was the December 14th Newtown tragedy, which is beyond anyone's comprehension, and then last week's Boston Marathon bombings. It seems like more and more incidents like these are happening nowadays, no?

In some situations we are confronted by senseless (and silly) acrimony and divisiveness; in others by illness, even evil. Lives are lost; dreams are dashed. Where is hope?

Perhaps we can find a glimmer of hope in what is rising up in the nation amid our troubles. While our politics are polarized (even if people aren't necessarily), current debates are helping to clarify critical issues that for too long have been obscured and obfuscated, and will help us find a path where resolution is more likely. This process often takes more time than any of us want; we often feel like we are running out of time.

My recent work in Newtown  has shown me first-hand the incredible spirit and generosity and resilience of people. Now, the same is true in Boston.

Amid our troubles and pain we are inching toward a society in which we must express with greater clarity and conviction what we do value, what we hope for, how we will engage with one another. To do otherwise is to hide and surrender. And we must remind ourselves of a basic truth: without community, there cannot be connections and trust and hope.

These times are deeply frustrating. To speak of silver linings when such pain occurs seems wrong and risks trivializing the anger and sorrow. But there are pathways forward that we are creating, together. These are expressions of our humanity and hope.